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Forgotten Bok lock RG Snyman in another injury setback

Forgotten Bok lock RG Snyman in another injury setback
RG Snyman of South Africa takes a lineout ball during the Rugby World Cup 2019 semifinal against Wales at International Stadium Yokohama on 27 October 2019. (Photo: David Rogers / Getty Images)

Springbok World Cup winner RG Snyman’s injury frustrations continue after he was ruled out for several more weeks.

The sporting gods give, but they also take away. Springbok lock RG Snyman certainly got more than his fair share when sporting genetics were handed out.

The 2.06m giant is a phenomenal athlete with skills that would have made him successful at whatever sport he chose. To see this colossal second-rower run, pass and step with the skills and speed of a backline player leads to imagining what he might have been like in the US’s National Basketball Association. Or what he might still do on the rugby field, although those hopes are fading.

But, in life, there is always balance and while blessed with so much abundant raw material, the 27-year-old has spent the better part of the last two years injured. It has reached the stage where there is serious doubt that he will ever return to the blossoming player he was in 2018-19.

Snyman, who plays for… no, let’s rephrase… who is contracted to Irish province Munster, has made four appearances in two full seasons for the club. He’s played a total of 54 minutes for Munster since joining the side in mid-2020. 

Although he signed a contract extension until 2024 in the off-season, it now appears his career is in the balance. And what a shame it would be if he never completely fulfils his potential, which is more massive than his frame. 

Munster coach Graham Rowntree was coy about predictions for Snyman’s return, given the lock’s recent track record, but the coach did reveal more bad news on Thursday.

Rowntree said that Snyman would not be back in action for “some time”. It now appears that Snyman won’t be available for the Springboks’ Northern Hemisphere tour in November either.

“He’s not quite there yet. He’s had a very difficult year and we’re not pushing him. All I can say at this point, for the foreseeable future, he’s not quite ready yet,” was what Rowntree said to media inquiries about Snyman’s fitness.

It’s an ambiguous diagnosis, and considering Snyman’s recent injury record, piles more doubt on whether we will ever actually get to see the best of RG Snyman. 

Rowntree’s comment came more than a month after he stated: “I’m not going to give you a date, I can’t give you a date,” when quizzed about Snyman’s return-to-play date in August. 

“Not initially, put it that way. We are not … I am not going to rush RG Snyman back, but he won’t be available to us initially.”  

“Initially”, which was originally interpreted as the opening few weeks of the new United Rugby Championship (URC) campaign, appears to now be drifting somewhere towards the halfway point of the season. 

Multiple setbacks 

Hopefully, Snyman’s name won’t only become synonymous with pub quiz questions such as “Who was the fourth lock in the 2019 Springbok World Cup squad?”

snyman injury

RG Snyman. (Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images)

Snyman burst on to the scene five years ago as a lock with athleticism and skill. YouTube clips have preserved Snyman’s highlights crammed into four years, but since the Boks were triumphant in Yokohama, Snyman’s career has been the rugby equivalent of a car wreck. 

He suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear minutes into his debut for Munster against arch-rivals Leinster in mid-2020. That cost him nearly a year on the sidelines. 

When he was almost ready to play again, a year on, he was a victim of a bizarre firepit incident, the exact details of which remain shrouded in the code of omerta — silence.

That incident led to some serious burns on his face. And when he returned to action a year after his first ACL injury, he managed to play for a few minutes in three matches before the ligament went again.

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But the worst was, also around then, that his mother, Annelie, died suddenly. He was incredibly close to her and it cut him deeply.

“It feels as if someone’s Jack Russell is running around with a voodoo doll of me,” Snyman told Rapport last October.

“It’s been a roller coaster in terms of emotion and disappointment. Every time I have something going for me, there’s a setback.

“This year, I’ve had to deal with injuries, disappointment, flames, death and heartbreak. Fortunately, I’m a positive person. I won’t let this get me down. I’ll come back stronger and better.

“Losing my mother was the biggest heartbreak I’ve suffered. She was my shoulder to cry on and the person, with a smile, who would tell me everything will work itself out.

“It’s been really difficult to go through these setbacks without my mother’s wise advice and comfort.

“But I’m glad I got to live in her light for a short time. And I’m glad she was there to share in some of the highlights of my life, such as winning the World Cup in 2019 and seeing me marry Saskia.”

Snyman, who played for the Bulls and for Honda Heat in Japan, could still come back, but with every delay, concern grows.

Senatla ruled out

rugby senatla

Seabelo Senatla of the Stormers during the United Rugby Championship match against Connacht at Danie Craven Stadium on 24 September 2022. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

In more bad injury news, Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla has been ruled out for several months after Connacht centre Bundee Aki illegally cleaned him out.

Aki was red-carded for the incident because he made contact with Senatla’s head. The Ireland international has been banned for eight weeks. But the real damage was that former Blitzbok star Senatla suffered shoulder and pectoral muscle damage. He underwent surgery this week.

“I think he’s meant to go for an operation today [Wednesday],” Stormers coach John Dobson said. “He’s out for many months. It’s unfortunate, especially because of how it happened.”

While Dobson has been left to ponder his options at wing, he was able to welcome back an armada of Springboks to the URC camp this week.

“We welcome back our current Springboks, whose game time will be strategically managed over the next month,” Dobson said. It is in keeping with the alignment to the needs of the national squad coaches as they prepare the Springboks for the November tour up north, and also the 2023 World Cup.

“It is huge having the Boks back in the mix, and whether they play or not this Saturday, they immediately add presence and energy to what is a very youthful squad.

“Damian Willemse has been running hot all year, for us and for the Springboks and he brings something electric to any occasion.” DM

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